This is about one of the most DIVINE pasta salads I have had. Ever. I LOVE Italian food. However, this salad is not the typical Italian dish you’d expect. There’s pasta and garlic, yes, but no tomatoes or cheese. It’s a shrimp pasta salad that will wow friends and family…and then have them begging for the recipe!
My friend Becky made it for my going-away when I moved to Georgia. I fell in love with it and demanded the recipe. She obliged, of course. I knew it would be something my husband would love, and I was right!
Anyway, this recipe calls for rice as its starch, and Becky made it with orzo. I have made this recipe several times using orzo, and I’ve also made it using rotini. Both have their pros and cons. The orzo makes the salad dressing distribute easily. The rotini gives the salad a bit more texture. Personally, I love making it with pasta with high protein (such as this one) so it keeps me fuller longer. I always aim to making high protein meals to keep us both fuller longer.
This pasta salad can be made with any pasta of your choice, but orzo just seems to allow all the juices and flavor settle into the protein and veggies in it.
First, make the vinaigrette. Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing and set aside. Again, the first time I made this I found that the salt content was WAY too much for me–and I like salt! I cut it to about 3/4 teaspoon. You can always add more to taste. I only added parsley to the vinaigrette the first time, and to me there is no discernible difference in taste.
While your pasta is cooking, chop up all the ingredients. I suggest starting with the dill and parsley as they are dry. The onion and peppers tend to leak juice onto your cutting board, making the dill and parsley stick to it.
Before I forget, someone once told me to pour vinegar over an onion before cutting it to prevent the fumes from making your eyes water. I have to say it did work! I just put in a small amount and lay the onion cut-side down for a few minutes. Try it!
The fragrances of the freshly chopped dill and parsley together really start making your labor all worth it.
Make sure you rinse your pasta with cold water after it’s strained so that it doesn’t get mushy. Set it aside. Prepare your shrimp. I recommend getting pre-cooked, peeled and de-veined shrimp. Trust me. With all the ingredients you’ve chopped the LAST thing you want to do is peel, devein and cook shrimp!
Fold in your pasta (or rice, if you chose to go that route) with the salad ingredients. Toss with the dressing. If you followed the vinaigrette recipe to the T, you’ll find that you will have a little more than necessary. Add to taste, I usually use less than what I have prepared. Let marinate an hour or two. Then serve on a bed of greens. Arugula will give a welcome contrast in texture and taste.
So, did the hubby like it? Let’s just say he asked for seconds, and then had some more as a midnight snack! SCORE!!!
- Substitute grilled chicken for the shrimp.
- Experiment with rotini or bowtie pasta instead of orzo
- Add olives, peas, or baby sweet bell peppers
- Increase the amount of garlic
- Use rice wine or red wine vinegar
- 1 lb orzo pasta
- 1 lb frozen cooked, peeled deveined salad shrimp
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- ¾ cup red onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup marinated artichoke hearts (optional)
- ¼ cup small capers
- ⅓ cup minced parsley
- ¼ cup golden raisins
- ¼ cup dark raisins
- mixed greens (for the bed)
- 1-1/4 cup olive oil
- ½ cup white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1-3/4 tsp. black pepper
- 2 tbsp freshly minced garlic
- ½ tsp dried basil
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ¼ cup minced fresh parsley
- ¼ cup minced fresh dill
- Chop the fresh herbs and garlic for the vinaigrette. Add dry ingredients, olive oil and white wine vinegar. Whisk ingredients together and set aside.
- Heat water in medium sauce pan to a low boil. Cook pasta until al dente.
- Thaw frozen shrimp in cool water. Drain and set aside.
- While your pasta is cooking, chop the onion, bell peppers, parsley and dill. Add to large mixing bowl.
- Drain marinated artichokes (optional). Separate artichoke leaves from the hearts and add to bowl.
- Drain pasta into colander and rinse with cool water. Set aside.
- Add capers and raisins. Fold in shrimp and mix.
- Add cooked pasta to mixing bowl.
- Pour the clear garlic vinaigrette and distribute the dressing with a wooden spoon.
- Refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Serve on a bed of mixed greens.
Feel free to tweak this to your liking. I tripled the amount of golden raisins and added another handful of dark raisins. I also doubled the amount of chopped parsley. The first few times I made this recipe I did not add artichokes. Now, it’s a requirement :) I’ve made this without the capers as well and it is still delicious, although the capers add good flavor without overpowering the rest of the salad.
Recipe adapted from The Frog Commissary Cookbook.